Insurer will take on Chubb and Hiscox with new product

Norwich Union (NU) is aiming to take on high net worth (HNW) giants Chubb and Hiscox with the launch of its own product.

The insurer began piloting the product, Distinct, last month with 30 brokers. It plans to roll it out to a further 50 brokers in July.

The move is part of NU’s review of its personal lines business.

Insurance Times revealed in March that NU was to develop its HNW offering (News, 8 March). NU’s intermediary business director John Kitson said the company was “miles away from where we want to be”.

The new product will ultimately replace Tapestry, NU’s current mid net worth/high net worth offering. Tapestry customers will be moved over to Distinct.

NU intermediary business director of services Phil Hitchcox said: “We decided there was an opportunity to move into true high net worth. Tapestry’s book was 20% the size that of Chubb and Hiscox. We weren’t punching our weight.”

Tapestry was launched in 2001 as part of NU’s move to become a “serious player” in the HNW market. Tapestry is worth about £50m in gross written premium.

But NU admits to making mistakes with the product, with service levels suffering.

“We don’t want to make the same mistakes we did with Tapestry, where service plummeted. Distinct will have a dedicated team of underwriters to take calls. We have also made large changes to claims service. Claims is key to getting the offering right,” said Hitchcox.

He added: “The pilot was to convince brokers we are a high net worth insurer. We will be gradually building a reputation. In time we can grow to the size of Chubb and Hiscox.”

Personal lines review

Norwich Union (NU) is conducting a wide-ranging review of its personal lines products, which could see commission levels revised.
NU intermediary business director of services Phil Hitchcox said: “We are looking at all aspects of personal lines distribution, making sure it is profitable and that we have the right products. We are doing a complete review of propositions in motor and household. “
One aspect of the review is whether the company is “rewarding what the broker does”.
Asked whether this could see commissions lowered, Hitchcox said: “We always review commission structures. We are not ruling it in and not ruling it out.”